I had a feeling last November that our country was going to go thru some birth pains in having the first African-American president. I have to be honest and say that I’ve been going thru them myself. I really wrestled with the presidential election for a number of reasons. First and foremost because I did not want to cause division within my evangelical, multicultural, and urban congregation, I kept my mouth shut. This was hard because I really wanted to use the presidential election to deal head on with the need for racial righteousness and reconciliation in our nation. But, every time I would just scratch the surface of the issue, you could cut the tension in the room with a knife. As the election day got closer I could sense the divide in our church between conservatives (in our church mostly Whites) and the more liberals (mostly young Whites and so-called people of color). It seemed like the conservatives became quieter and somewhat down in our church and after November 20th, the liberals got louder and excited for the dawn of a new day.
The second reason this past election was hard for me was because I was wrestling back and forth between being apart of history and being from a political standpoint, a moderate conservative. Okay, I guess this is my political coming out party; I would compare my political beliefs to that of General Colin Powell. Finally, I said it! That felt so good! With this in mind, I had part of me that wanted to see Obama win and part of me that struggled because I’m pro-life, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and I tend to be fiscally conservative. Voting day last year put the biggest rock in my stomach ever.
Even with all this in mind, when I hear some evangelicals and conservatives refer to President Obama as the Anti-Christ and a racist angry black man, I see how in denial about racism many in our nation are. The issue is, some conservatives really don’t mind the idea of a black president, they just want them to act White and never raise the issue of racism or question police or military authority. Conservatives then pimp some conservative African-Americans and Hispanics to drive this point home. I’ve been asked by some conservatives to play this role on many occasions. For the president to have attended a Black church which preaches a Black liberation theology and to question the actions of the police is out of bounds. Now to be a White president that attended an all-White church and be a part of all White social clubs, and live in an all-White community and have all that shape your views of what it means to be American is totally acceptable. I thought the President carried more authority in this country than a police officer from Cambridge? But it’s really beyond that. The problem is, you can be president or a professor at Harvard, if you don’t act American, which in many cases for some conservatives is acting White, then you are an angry black man. We have to deal with the fact the some conservatives have not separated being American from being White. Some are in denial about living in Whiteness. By the way, Blackness is no better solution.
Please hear that I’m not condemning all conservatives, I’m a moderate conservative myself. What I’m talking about is that when African-Americans question the actions of European-Americans in authority or when we raise the issue of race in our country, we are labeled as angry black people. It’s like some Whites are saying, “how dare you question my beliefs or my behavior! How dare you say I might have some racial issues I need to work out.” On conservative television this week our president has been called a racist, one who hates Whites and White culture, and one who is angry. This is code language for, “Negro President, get in your place.” I need my evangelical and conservative European-American brothers and sister to stay ideologically conservative but separate that from straight out racism masking itself with patriotism and family values.
By the way, word to the President: “Why you so angry?” 🙂 Word to the Christians, read Galatians 3.